Friday, 11 September 2009

just making sure

Thanks to A Mother's Secret, I'm looking back in time a bit, about 3 years or so, when I was pregnant with Cubling. Living in Scotland, or Glasgow to be precise because the NHS doesn't work the same across Scotland, there is only one ultra sound scan on offer for the length of pregnancy (apparently it'll change in December or so when even Glasgow will offer 2 scans - bring it on!). It should be the 12 week dating scan, but usually it's scheduled between week 15 and 17, depending on how quickly you get referred after finding out you're pregnant. If you see a GP the day after conception, you might actually get this scan in week 12 scan. Don't worry that your pregnancy test won't tell you you've conceived, nobody will actually check anyway.

However, I found out I was pregnant when in Germany, then went on honeymoon and only got referred in week 8 or 9, and my scan was scheduled for week 17. I sneaked in a scan in Germany though at 8 week (can't help but abuse the German system - I was prepared to pay for it because really I'm not covered for any but emergency health treatment there, but because it's more hassle than worth the money, the nice obs never charged me...). I was furious and negotiated. It was a tough phone call, I listed all the reasons why 17 weeks was just too late for me: my pregnancy was a suspected twin pregnancy, I was about to change jobs and wouldn't have done this if it had indeed been a twin pregnancy, I'm over 35, I wants it just gimme it my precious. Eventually after much huffing and puffing, I got a scan in for what I believed to be week 12. My main concern was to get a nuchal fold screening, which you can only do between weeks 11 and 14, as an older first time mum this was important to me.

Of course they didn't do the nuchal fold anyway as this is not offered on the NHS in Glasgow. Boo.

I was all worries during the pregnancy. I expected to miscarry, I expected to have a Downs baby, I expected all kinds of things. A later scan was important to me, I didn't crave the monthly scans offered in Germany, but a 20 week scan to check the baby was sort of ok would have been nice. So I scheduled in a sneaky trip to Germany, remembering my lovely obs there who didn't mind my health tourism, and got an extra (and free!) scan at 23 or so weeks.

To be honest, I was also deperate to find out if it was a boy or girl. My reasoning was utterly fickle and I'm really rather ashamed of it. Thing is, I wanted a girl. I tried not to say it, I tried to hide it, to not care about it, but at the end of the day, it was true. Now, I didn't want to be disappointed on my little Cubling's birthday, can you imagine, all drama, baby gets delivered and I wait for the magic announcement and it's going to be "It's a boy!" and my reaction would be one of, ah, never mind? Nonono, I wanted to be prepared and get used to the idea. Hubby was ok with wanting to find out too. Again, in Scotland, even if I'd had a later scan, they wouldn't have told me the sex.

So, a proper health tourist (to be fair, I was very prepared to pay!), I got another scan and asked for the sex of the baby. It was a shame that hubby couldn't be there, I took my dad instead to be there with me. The obs was looking here, looking there, taking measurements, telling me the head and chest were big (they are not and even a throw away comment like that had me worried again) and then he showed me where I could see that this little baby was a... GIRL!!!! I couldn't see it, I didn't care, I was overjoyed! It was a dream come true, my little girl, and there was no denying that I was immensely pleased, still feeling a tad guilty about it all.

Somehow, I still didn't quite fully believe it and when Cubling was born and nobody announced her sex, I stupidly asked while being stitched up if she was indeed a girl. I got some rather confused glances, of course she is, you knew it was a girl, so why are you asking? Just making sure. Just making sure.

Would I want to find out again? I don't think I'd be bothered next time around, but curiosity may still get the better of me.

Feel free to shoot me for fickleness in the comments box below ;)


Mwa said...

The NHS is PREHISTORIC! I remember my sister-in-law had fitted carpet in the labour ward. And she had the option of giving birth in a hospital which didn't even have an echo machine.

I'm so happy to be in the Belgian system. I got scans every month, going up to every two weeks, even one week by the end. Of course I had the neck fold scan, of course I was told the sex.

I am appalled at your description. To be honest, it is one of the reasons we decided against moving back to Scotland in the end.

I'm glad you all came out of the experience ok.

cartside said...

To the defence of the NHS I have to say that my care was generally ok. Yes, I had wanted a nuchal fold scan, and a 20 week scan to check baby is ok. But other than that I really loved the hands off approach, it was reassuring to be dealing with midwives and the GPs in my health centre who specialised in pregnancy care rather than obs. They were lovely and really made sure I was ok. Whenever there was even a worry (medical or other), I got referred or time was made to listen. They managed to set my mind at ease, while in Germany the obs was rather distant, less caring and I really didn't like to be plugged into continuous fetal monitoring as a matter of course. I also really appreciated that here you can have gas and air, diamorphine and tens machines for pain relief. In Germany, it's epidural or nothing. Oh yeah, and I had a birthing pool in the hospital to labour in!!! Best pain relief ever. And I was allowed to go 15 days over my EDD without any objection.

I think part of the reason they don't tell the sex here is they don't want to get sued if they get it wrong. And there is a significant BME population here with some minorities within these communities who may consider sex selective abortion. I know lots of people from BME backgrounds and have many friends from countries where this is an issue, and while the majority of people won't even think about such a thing, it does occasionally happen. So there's a reason for not telling the sex I guess.

So all in all, different systems, but I think I'd rather have a baby here. Yes, more scans would be just lovely, but the non medicalised approach suited me. And I'm always open to throwing a bit of health tourism in, pragmatic as I am ;)

Noble Savage said...

There is no reason to have scans every week, every two weeks, or even every month unless something is wrong or suspected to be wrong. Needless ultrasounds drive costs up and don't do anything but reassure nervous first time parents. The dating scan, nuchal fold and anomaly scan are all that is necessary. Only doing what is necessary is not "prehistoric", it is common sense.

SnafflesMummy said...

Loving your blog. Whilst I appreciate that numerous scans are not strictly "necessary" they have a huge psychological benifit to us mothers to be and if it stops us worring for another few months then I think the money is entirely worth it.
When you spend 12+ weeks with your head down the toilet it might be nice to expect to see the little bean responsible on a screen once in a while.

I would have done the same too.

Check out my recent blog for a Great Read award x

Very Bored Housewife said...

I have only experienced the Spanish or rather Catalan health service (as it's governed by Barcelona not Madrid)and see the midwife once a month and every 2 weeks in the last month. I had scans at 12, 20 and 28 weeks and I think because I miscarried I will be offered an early one, well I'm hoping anyway. I loved having my scans and would happily have them every week if I could.

I found out the sex and will be doing again, it seems almost the done thing over here anyway. We were too impatient to wait for the surprise, I think we were probably surprised enough that I was pregnant in the first place!!

This time I want to know for more practical reasons, do I really need to be taking up valuable storage space with blue stuff if it's a pink one next??

Cave Mother said...

I'm all for the hands-off approach too. And what about the safety of ultrasound scans? I am not one of these paranoid people who actually believe they are dangerous, but I know there is a question mark over them and I'm happy to limit it to 2 scans.

I have to say though, I would have given anything for an early scan just to confirm there was a baby. I was terrified of finding out at 12 weeks that it was just a mass of cells that would need to be removed.

Perfectly Happy Mum said...

The number of scans are the same in France. My sister was pregnant at the same time as me the second time and I was so jealous that she would get all these scans! It doesn't work the same way there and the OB usually has his own private scanning machine, so it is easy to go and ask to have a peek at the baby.
As for the sex preference, you shouldn't feel guilty really. I had the same but I wanted a boy more than a girl and that's what I got, both time :)
Thanks for your contribution!

Sandy Calico said...

Great honest post. I had so many scans in my pregnancies as I had gestational diabetes. With my eldest they scanned to estimate his birth weight, to make sure he wouldn't be too big. They said he would be over 8lbs, he was 6lb 10oz. Not big at all. With my youngest I was scanned even more frequently as they were worried about his lack of growth. They worried me so much I agreed to early induction at 39+2. Luckily the birth was fine and he was 6lb 6oz. Looking at the evidence I would say that I just have small babies.
Regarding the sex, I didn't want to know. I'm surprised by my self control, I'm always the one under the Christmas tree, poking the parcels. I had to say at every scan 'I don't want to know what it is' - amazing self-restraint!

Maternal Tales said...

I know what you mean - about wanting to find out the sex because the last thing you want to be is disappointed when the baby is born. I'm glad you had a girl - I have two and I never wanted anything else.

Laura McIntyre said...

I was desprete to find out the sex with each of my children and yes i managed to. The 1 scan thing is really unfair , i hate it and feel so much will be missed . I think its a whole money thing.

Though honestly i cannot complain as due to problems with my first pregnancy i was given scans every few weeks just to check things were ok. I was meant to get one and cannot imagine how that would of been



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